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Survey Says...

Marion City Library

Marion City Library, located in a 1912 Santa Fe Depot

One of the things I love the most about the Finishing School for Modern Women is community. It doesn’t matter if we’re working on ourselves, or on a public project, bringing people together to make things better is powerful. This weekend has been a loving example of this for me.

I witnessed community coming to action to connect neighborhoods divided by a highway, through stories and artwork to build cultural bridges. The Final Friday opening for Horizontes’ “The Color Line” show at the Kansas African American Museum was jam packed with supporters from many sectors of society that don’t always meet. This display tells the stories of the people in these divided neighborhoods, through pictures and audio and video recordings, that were gathered by Horizontes project canvassers in a door-to-door engagement campaign last year. It brings incredible new meaning to the epic mural on the Beachner Grain Elevator and the others to know the back stories of the people in the painting. The show will be up until May 18th and will give you an excuse to go to this hidden treasure of a museum. I’m looking forward to going back myself to spend some time taking in the exhibit.

Yesterday I got a double dose of what it feels like when community comes together and I’m still feeling the love this morning. I took the Finishing School show on the road to Marion, Kansas and spent the afternoon at the award-winning Marion City Library, bringing in over 30 people from the county to talk, laugh, and share ideas about how to make our lives less cluttered. There is so much power in realizing we’re not alone in our struggles, being vulnerable enough to talk about it, and getting inspiration from others that the room was buzzing. Everyone made me feel so warm and welcome from the start, I can’t wait to go back to see my new friends.

Convincing myself to go out again last night to celebrate with the organizers of the Women’s March wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did. I ended up missing the event last Saturday, when I woke up feeling crappy. I was on the committee to help plan the speakers for the rally and was super disappointed I couldn’t be there to experience it. The feeling of hundreds of people unifying to celebrate what it means to be a woman and claim our voices is electrifying. (Check out these pictures on Women for Kansas.) It was fun to gather with this inclusive group of strong, opinionated, organizing women, to get to know them better, hear the stories of what I missed, and to talk a little about where to go from here. I’m excited about how women throughout the community are coming together and establishing strong bonds to work in ways we haven’t before. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve.

Which brings me back to our community at the Finishing School. When I asked you to “lay your brilliance on me” with new class ideas in my latest survey, the responders blew my socks off. There were so many great suggestions I’d never even thought of, and others that can be combined with what I’ve already been thinking. Way more than I can pull off in one year, especially now that the online subscriptions are up and running!

I also asked for feedback on classes I’d been mulling over, some of them since before I started the Finishing School. The big winners that respondents said they’d attend were:

  1. “Get Your Spark Back,” discover your sparkle and how to let it shine. (56.5%)

  2. “Linked,” using LinkedIn for business success. (47.8%)

  3. “Leave Your Ego at the Door,” how to use positive collaboration for personal success. (43.4%)

I’m already working on the LinkedIn class with co teacher Dawn Monroe, who is a master’s level certified Microsoft Office Specialist and has been teaching computer applications to business professionals for years - and she really knows her way around LinkedIn. Watch for “LinkedIn to Win” on Tuesday, March 26 from 6 to 8:30 PM.

Other high scoring classes were:

“Memoir Writing,” telling your own story in an engaging way to publish or not (41.3%)

“Ready for my Close Up,” making and using videos for promotion or fun (39.1%) tied with “Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” how to prepare for leadership and advances at work. (39.1%)

“Power Writing,” how to improve professional writing skills and cut out language that compromises clout. (36.9%)

I also asked for feedback on panel discussions. I love panel discussions because they’re less structured than our regular classes, are a lot less work, and you never can tell what will happen! The big winners in this category were:

“Razzmatazz,” how to live life to the fullest, let your freak flag fly, and enjoy life more. (55.5%)

“Activate,” be an advocate to stand up for what you believe in, safely and effectively. (53.3%)

“Serving your Community,” how to serve on nonprofit boards and find volunteer opportunities. (46.6%)

I’m jazzed about the “Razzmatazz” panel and am working on a list of people that I think exemplify that attitude. If you know of anyone, shoot their name to me in an email. That’s going to be so much fun!

There were so many ideas for new classes. Here were my favorites:

  • Getting in touch with your feminine side.

  • Taking great pictures you’ll love – how to pose in the most flattering way.

  • Breaking through fear of the unknown.

  • Finding your personal style, and strategically dress for your shape

  • What is modern day feminism and what to do about it without getting bitter?

  • Choosing a cause and making a social impact

  • Board service – how to prepare and be accepted to a board, what to expect, how to be effective, and how to find opportunities.

  • Dealing with trauma.

  • How to support our sisters instead of tearing them down.

  • Breaking bad habits and establishing better ones.

  • Encore careers after retirement.

  • Time management for what matters.

  • If not now, when – getting the most out of your life now.

  • How to be a positive influence in a negative world.

  • You’re better than you think – building confidence.

  • One Day at a Time – How to go on when you don’t think you can.

  • Living on a budget and thrifty tips.

  • Taking care of our Mother – what to do to help the environment.

  • Honoring diversity and what that means

  • How to make the best decisions

See what I mean! So many fantastic ideas. Since there are too many to decide, I need feedback from you. Please take a few minutes to go to this new one question survey, to weigh in on what classes you want to attend.

Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey, and congrats the winners of the class passes, picked randomly from that list. You’ll be receiving them in the mail very soon. If you didn’t get in on the survey, no worries. I love to hear from you and am always open to your suggestions. If you have an idea for what you’d like, let me know.

Stay tuned to see what new classes we’ll offer this year!

Headmistress Jill

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